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What Makes HSU So Special; an Inspiring Story from Roberta Duggan

Date: August 01, 2013


This touching story was read by Roberta Duggan at her retirement farewell party to her friends, family and colleagues. Roberta worked at Humboldt State University in the bookstore for over 20 years. Her passion and love for Humboldt State is evident. It’s people like Roberta that make HSU the special place it is. Thank you Roberta for sharing such a wonderful story with us during HSU’s Centennial year!

I wrote down this story before I fell asleep last night.

It was almost closing time last Friday and a cashier fielded a phone call from an alum who had graduated from Humboldt State in early 70’s. He proceeded to relay information about his class ring that has a small chip in the emerald.  Where else do you call when you think about your college ring…Your Campus Bookstore!

Our cashier put the call through to me and I listened to the long version of the story.  Our alum, Earl, had gone to school on the GI Bill and was an older student in that day and age (age 28). His dad was so proud of him because Dad hadn’t gone to college.  Earl’s dad and his young wife (now married 43 years) went in together to purchase the expensive class ring. The HSU ring was etched with the Natural Resources Honor Society and set with the green emerald.  Earl even told me that he needed a 3.4 overall GPA to belong to the N.R. Honor Society, and he was rightfully quite proud. 

By now, Earl really wanted to share the story of his ring. He hadn’t actually worn it.  It had been stored safely away.  But now, 40 years later, he was thinking about the day that his grown sons would go through his personal effects and they would treasure this special ring. He wanted it perfect! He was determined to repair the chip in the emerald.  He had been to a shop in Portland, OR and the jeweler wouldn’t touch it. Because it is a class ring, it would be under warranty by the company who made it, and unfortunately, the repair was hands off for the jeweler. Without further ado, she wished him good luck.

Indeed, the call has now gone on five minutes, but I am invested in listening to his story. He is one of our Humboldt people.

I told Earl that I would contact our Herff-Jones sales rep and get advice from her.  He proceeded to tell me about his favorite memories at HSU back in the 70’s and how much he and his wife had enjoyed HSU and one more time that they had been married for 43 years! He asked about the weather (don’t they always?) and reminisced about the inches of rainfall during his time at Humboldt.

By Monday, my Herff-Jones rep responded to my email and offered her suggestion.  She suggested that Earl insure the ring and send it off to Herff-Jones.  They would determine if Earl’s ring had been made by Herff-Jones. If so, it would be covered under the Herff-Jones warranty. If it wasn’t a Herff-Jones ring, they would determine which class ring manufacturer had made it and send the ring back to Earl. 
I called Earl back and his wife answered the phone.  He was up on the ladder power washing the house and when he realized I was on the phone, he came dripping into the house to take my call!  He was astounded that I had followed up!  He decided to insure the ring and send it to our ring vendor, Herff-Jones, to begin the investigation and subsequent repair process.  He was so happy and told me how much he appreciated my help.

This story is not about a ring.  It is not about a big sale.  It’s about Earl from Canby, Oregon who wanted to connect with his Humboldt State people. When he dialed that memorable 707 area code, he got more than the HSU Bookstore on the line.  He found someone who would listen and reminisce a little bit about his beloved Humboldt!  He found someone who was willing to take a moment to further enrich his Humboldt connection! 

Once the ring is repaired, the emerald will shine a little brighter because Earl will share his story about the Humboldt people who helped him and how he was made to feel a welcomed member of the Humboldt family. 

Every time you help a customer or greet a visitor, I want you to think of people like Earl. A fresh faced prospective freshman visiting with his family is creating his special Humboldt memories with you!  As I listen and watch you warmly engage with our Humboldt State customers, there is more than a sale going on.  You are making lifelong connections.  The customer you help during HOP with his course materials will eventually become the customer you fit for cap and gown at Commencement.  That same graduate will push a baby stroller through the Bookstore sometime in the future just to say hello and freshen up his Humboldt State gear. And, when HSU Homecoming time rolls around and you have a chance to chat with the Golden Grads, the circle is complete!  As you help them fill their shopping baskets, they will regale you with stories of the good old days that are a part of their Humboldt history.  How extra special it is for you to be a part of HSU’s Centennial Celebration!  The alums will be coming out of the woodwork!

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